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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL OPENS BIG SKY PLAY WITH 73-64 LOSS AT NORTHERN ARIZONA
Junior center Konner Veteto posted team highs in bothh points (17) and rebounds (8) in tonight's game
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Northern Arizona went 7-of-12 from the three-point line, and Sacramento State shot just 8-of-21 from the free throw line as the Lumberjacks defeated the Hornets, 73-64, in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Thursday evening at the Rolle Activity Center.
The game marked the Big Sky opener for both teams. Sacramento State was playing without the services of senior swingman Walter Jackson who quit the team for personal reasons. The Hornets, however, did welcome back sophomore shooting guard Jackson Carbajal who played for the first time since injuring his knee during the season opener against Menlo.
Perimeter defense in the first half, and poor free throw shooting were the differences in the game as Northern Arizona shot 7-for-8 from the three-point line during a first half that saw the Lumberjacks outscore the Hornets, 40-27. Sacramento State, which entered the game shooting a respectable 71.0 percent from the free throw line, not only shot 38.1 percent (8-21) from the charity stripe, but also missed the front end of all four of its one-and-one free throw situations. That adds up to a potential 17 points left at the free throw line by the Hornets.
The combination of James Douglas (4-5 from distance) and Gabe Rogers (3-3 from distance) helped NAU shoot 64.0 percent from the field in the first half and 87.5 percent (7-8) from the three-point line. A three ball from Douglas towards the end of the first half gave NAU a 13-point advantage, the team’s largest lead of the night.
However, the Hornets opened the second half on a 15-2 run spanning nearly six minutes to tie the score at 42-42. The run was sparked by junior center Konner Veteto, who scored six of his season-high 17 points during the spurt. Sacramento State would never take a lead though as the game was tied two more times at 44-44 and 46-46, but NAU never trailed in the second half.
After a Veteto offensive rebound and putback got the Hornets to within two points (52-50) with 8:41 to play, the Lumberjacks went on an 8-0 run to take a 60-50 lead with 5:22 remaining. During that run, Sacramento State missed the front end of a pair of one-and-one free throw situations. A three-pointer from Carbajal got the Hornets to within, 70-64, with 17 seconds to play, but the team would get no closer the rest of the way.
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 5-7 overall and 0-1 in the Big Sky, and the Hornets fell for the 14th consecutive time to a Northern Arizona team that is now 31-9 all-time against Sacramento State. NAU improved to 5-8 and 1-0 in the conference, and 3-1 under the guidance of interim head coach Dave Brown.
Sacramento State finished the game shooting 48.1 percent (26-54) from the field and 25.0 percent (4-16) from the three-point line, but the story of the game was free throw shooting. The Hornets weren’t far off the program’s low-water mark for free throw shooting in a game - .263 (5-for-19) against San Francisco in 2006.
NAU finished the game shooting 46.4 percent (26-56) from the field, including 7-of-12 (.583) from distance and 14-of-17 (.824) from the free throw line. To the Hornets’ credit, the Lumberjacks were held without a three-pointer in the second half (0-for-4) after their torrid first half from beyond the arc. Northern Arizona held a 36-30 rebounding margin. Sacramento State did outscore NAU, 18-6, in points off turnovers.
For the Hornets, Veteto finished the game with team highs in both points (17) and rebounds (8). Six of his eight rebounds came on the offensive glass, and 13 of his points came in the second half. However, Veteto shot just 1-for-6 from the free throw line. He was joined in double figures by forward John Dickson (13 points, four rebounds, 5-of-8 from the field) and Carbajal (13 points, two steals). Swingman Joe Eberhard added seven points and seven rebounds while playing a game-high 37 minutes and point guard Dylan Garrity had four points, four rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes.
For Northern Arizona, Douglas led all players with 22 points, shooting 8-of-13 from the field and 4-of-6 from the three-point line. He was joined in double figures by Durrell Norman (15 points, game-high nine rebounds) and Rogers (17 points, four assists). Gaellan Bewernick added eight points and six rebounds, and Ben Olayinka had seven points and six rebounds.
The Hornets return to action for a New Year’s Eve matinee as the team travels to Ogden, Utah, to take on Weber State on Saturday at 1 p.m. PST. The Wildcats improved to a Big Sky-best 9-3 with a 78-64 home victory over Idaho State tonight in both teams’ conference opener.
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